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  1. Opinion

Ruth: I-4 shooting proves gun ownership rules too lax

Published Jul. 5, 2013

It is probably safe to assume that a combination of morons, liquor, guns and strip clubs will pretty well guarantee that nothing much very good will result.

And that's how it was that Fred Turner Jr. wound up dead — literally being the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.

All murders are senseless. But the tragic shooting death of Turner, 47, June 29 along a stretch of I-4 is only trumped perhaps by the abject stupidity of his alleged killer, Jerome Hayes, who quite likely will spend the rest of his life behind bars because he had too much ammunition and precious little brains.

Hayes, 48, of St. Cloud and obviously a devotee of modern dance, found himself taking in the Tampa cultural scene that fateful Saturday at the Gold Club stripper saloon on Adamo Drive.

At some point a dispute broke out between Hayes and another patron of the arts. Perhaps it was a disagreement about whether the dancers were influenced more by Twyla Tharp, or maybe Bob Fosse. Alas we'll never know for sure.

What we do know is unpleasantries ensued and Hayes, along with a companion were bounced from the Gold Club so that the remaining customers could enjoy the two-bit gin joint chippies' performance in G-string minor in peace.

According to law enforcement, Hayes waited in the parking lot for the chap who had offended his sensibilities to leave the Gold Club in order to conclude their differences of opinion when Turner happened to exit a nearby store and get into his car for the drive back home to Orlando.

Somehow, and keep in mind we're not dealing with a particularly bright bulb here, Hayes mistook Turner for the gentlemen he had quarrelled with moments earlier, which might suggest this guy has the attention span of an anvil.

Hayes and his friend followed Turner as he pulled onto I-4. And shortly thereafter as Turner frantically told a 911 dispatcher he was being tailed by a menacing driver, shots rang out killing him.

To only slightly paraphrase one of the National Rifle Association's biggest canards, up until about 3 p.m., Saturday June 29, Jerome Hayes was a law-abiding boob — with a gun.

Or put another way, Hayes could spend decades in a cage, waking up every day and going to sleep every night with the knowledge that not only did he allegedly pull a trigger in a spasm of rage to satisfy some redneck sense of vengeance, but he was dense enough to not even recognize his intended target.

And people this half-witted are allowed to own a gun?

This is what the all-too-easy proliferation of guns in our society has wrought. There was a time, before Florida opted to turn itself into a sub-tropical Deadwood, when tiffs like what occurred at the Gold Club coo-coo-ca-choo emporium would have been resolved with some innovative expressions tossed back and forth about the participants' sexuality, parentage and suggestions to commit various acts upon themselves all wrapped up very nicely by some halfhearted and ill-aimed punches attempted.

Now whatever untoward actions took place between two sad sack bumpkins sitting in a chintzy strip club apparently rose to the level where someone felt justified to shoot a total stranger.

It is probably sadly true that any serious effort to forge consensus on gun control is a political nonstarter. But just maybe some lives could be saved if society imposed a literacy test on slack-jawed yahoos wanting to enter a hoochie-coochie club.

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